OGDEN — A new art gallery is coming to Ogden, part of the push to bolster arts offerings via the Nine Rails Creative District taking shape near the city center.
Ogden Contemporary Arts, or OCA, took shape in 2012 without a fixed location to promote the local art scene and has since been behind a slew of public murals and sculpture projects. Now, it’ll be occupying a 4,000-square-foot space at The Monarch, the venue for artists at the heart of the Nine Rails Creative District, exhibiting art for free public viewing and more.
Plans for the new two-level art center at 455 25th St. have been in the works for two years, said Cori Anderson, president of the OCA board. “And we are thrilled we have made it reality during COVID and all the weirdness in the world,” she said.
A virtual ”first look” ceremony is set to start Friday, with participants able to view the inaugural exhibits at the gallery via a special video offering a 360-degree experience of the space on the OCA website, ogdencontemporaryarts.org. Officials had hoped for an in-person launch but tweaked the plans in light of the COVID-19 pandemic to guard against the spread of the ailment.
Then on Wednesday, Nov. 11, the OCA Art Center will open its doors to the public. Hours will be 10 a.m.-6 p.m. Wednesday through Friday, 9 a.m.-6 p.m. on Saturday and 9 a.m.-2 p.m. on Sunday. On the first Friday of each month, when Ogden’s First Friday Art Stroll is held, hours will be 11 a.m.-9:30 p.m.
The OCA teamed with Modern West Fine Art of Salt Lake City for the inaugural exhibit, which will feature the works of Andrew Alba and Shalee Cooper, both of Salt Lake City, as well as Levi Jackson of Ogden. “Modern West shares our desire to inspire and help our Utah communities thrive through contemporary art,” OCA Executive Director Venessa Castagnoli said in a press release.
The OCA is a nonprofit organization and admission to the new Art Center will be free, aiming to allow as broad a cross-section of people as possible to view the works on display. The aim is to dispel the notion that art is a luxury reserved for only a few. Indeed, Anderson invites families and others to tour the facility, to talk about the works on display and take it all in.
Weber State University runs an art gallery, but Anderson said the OCA Art Center will be unique in Ogden’s city center. It’ll feature rotating exhibits from a range of artists from the area and beyond.
Some $500,000 in donations were used to renovate the space. The funds came from the Dr. Ezekiel R. & Edna Wattis Dumke Foundation and the Eccles Foundation.
“It was a mess. It had been a restaurant before and who knows what else,” Anderson said. “It’s been a complete transformation.”
In 2018, the Ogden City Council created the Nine Rails Creative District, meant to be a hub of sorts for art and other creative activities. The core area is between Washington Boulevard and Jefferson Avenue on the west and east and 24th and 26th streets on the north and south, though it meanders beyond that to Historic 25th Street, among other places. The Monarch, which houses space for artists, is a central piece of Nine Rails, and a planned arts plaza at 445 25th Street is also part of the initiative.
The plaza, at the former site of the Courtyard Inn Motel, is in the design stages. It is tentatively to be finished by October next year.